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Meet Our Instructors
Raymond A. Cebula, III, Esq.
Raymond A. Cebula, III, Esq. is a faculty member of the Employment and Disability Institute in the ILR School at Cornell University. As a faculty member, he provides technical assistance and training to an array of stakeholders on social insurance issues as well as protection and advocacy supports. As an experienced social security disability attorney Mr. Cebula practiced with the Disability Benefits Project as a Senior Staff Attorney with the Disability Law Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He has also served as a Managing Attorney of the Disability and Medicare projects at Southeastern Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. He is a graduate of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, NH and received a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship upon graduation. He is also a graduate of Merrimack College and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. His practice has concentrated in the area of social security practice and has brought several pieces of significant litigation on behalf of low income, disabled social security beneficiaries. While working with the Disability Law Center, Mr. Cebula taught at Harvard Law School's Legal Aid Bureau for a period of three academic years. He is the co-author of the MCLE publication An Advocate's Guide to Surviving the SSI System, as well as several SSI practice manuals published by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, and is a regular presenter of social security related programs at local and national conferences of social security practitioners.
Edwin J Lopez-Soto spent a total of 24 years working with legal services and the premier statewide support center in the country, the Greater Upstate Law Project, before joining the faculty of the Employment and Disability Institute. He began working with Southern Tier Legal Services in Bath, New York as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow. Two years later, he moved to the city of Rochester and joined the Monroe County Legal Services Corporation serving as the Supervising Attorney of the Public Benefits and Disability Benefits units. In 1985, he joined the Greater Upstate Law Project staff where he provided technical assistance and training to New York advocates and attorneys as well as engaging in impact litigation against the Social Security Administration, the Department of the Treasury, the Office of Mental Health and the State of New York.
Ed was part of a workgroup that met with the Social Security Administration (SSA) in an effort obtain better access to services for SSAs customers with limited English proficiency. As a result of the groups' efforts, the agency changed its policies to recognize its responsibility to provide an interpreter when an individual is not able to communicate adequately in English. Additionally, in an effort to obtain more accurate disability determinations, this policy has been extended to the state agencies that make disability determinations for SSA. The Task Force was so successful that it received, from Vice President Gore, the Vice Presidents Government Reinvention Hammer Award for its efforts in forging a vision of how the Social Security Administration should serve members of the public who are non-English speaking or have limited English proficiency.
Over time he became a specialist in post-entitlement and return to work issues. Ed and his co-author Jim Sheldon are now in the 13th edition of The Benefits Management For Working People With Disabilities: An Advocate's Manual. In addition, Ed has written extensively on return to work as well as post-entitlement issues. Mr. Lopez-Soto has presented seminars on hundreds of occasions over the past 25 years for legal services attorneys, the private bar, lay advocates, agency personnel and persons with disabilities. Most of the seminars have focused on Social Security, SSI, post-entitlement and return to work issues. It was this aspect of his work that developed into a contractual relationship with the Work Incentive Support Center at Cornell University's ILR School. He became part of the Work Incentive Support team in 2000, and began providing technical assistance, training and advice to benefits specialists and legal advocates in the 16 states and territories associated with the WISC. In February of 2009, Ed joined the Cornell staff and continues to provide training and technical assistance concerning work incentive programming. Ed also serves as an instructor on ediONLINE, the institute's distance learning program for benefits planners and others interested in learning about the Social Security disability and work incentive programming.
Carol Blessing, LMSW
Carol Blessing, LMSW has spent the past decade of over 25 years of professional service on the faculty with Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute within the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. As a faculty member she currently serves as Project Director for the New York State Office of Mental Health Career Development Initiative, a project working within New York State psychiatric centers designed to enhance the system's ability to facilitate community employment and individualized recovery-oriented services with people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
Ms. Blessing has an extensive history of working with individuals, their families, and service organizations to foster and facilitate the full inclusion of people with disabilities within typical community settings through paid employment and other meaningful community membership roles. She has been both a direct care practitioner and a program administrator. Her broad range of experience includes working with youth in special education in transition from post-secondary education to adult learning and earning; working with individuals with developmental disabilities in sheltered employment and supported employment settings, as well as with inmates with special needs.
In addition to having expertise in the theory and practices that promote successful employment outcomes with people with disabilities, Ms. Blessing is also well-versed in the areas of organizational change, strategic planning, Appreciative Inquiry and person-centered planning.
Thomas P. Golden, MS, CRC
Thomas P. Golden, MS, CRC is the Associate Director of the Employment and Disability Institute in the ILR School at Cornell University and has been on faculty since 1991. He has contributed to the NIDRR-sponsored Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) for Economic Research on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities and the StatsRRTC at Cornell. He also directs the Work Incentives Support Center and several other state initiatives focusing on community participation and inclusion of people with disabilities. He completed a comparative analysis of return to work policy and practice in the United Kingdom and United States which currently culminated in an International Symposium hosted by the White House in 2004. He is currently working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to design an educational curriculum that will be used in 13 third-world countries to support the development of anti-discrimination legislation and policy impacting individuals with disabilities. Thomas has served on the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel since its inception and was also a member of an Advisory Group established by the Social Security Administration to address adequacy of incentive issues under the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program. He is a Board Member of the U.S. International Disability Council, National Council on Rehabilitation Education and a member of the National Academy on Social Insurance.